Review of Infamous

Author: Lex Croucher

Publisher: Bonnier Books UK

My rating: 4 Stars

Genre: Romance – Historical Fiction – LGBTQ

Infamous – Cover

📖 There was three words on the cover of this book that quickly persuaded me to buy it, “Booksmart meets Brdgerton.” Historical fiction is my favourite genre. Bridgerton is one of my favourite TV shows, so it was inevitable this book would end up in my shopping basket and I’m pretty pleased it did!

✍️ This book follows Edith ‘Eddie’ Miller and her best friend Rose Li as they set off into society. Eddie has dreamed all her life of being a writer, when Rose starts to talk of marriage and society dances, at first, Eddie is unimpressed, then she comes across Nash Nicholson, renowned poet and rival to Lord Byron. Eddie is over-awed. When the married Nash starts to pay her attention, Eddie is flattered. Nash is known for his non-comforming views of society, something which she shares. When he offers to take Eddie along with an eclectic group of friends out to his country pile, Eddie cannot refuse, this is her chance to fulfil her writer dreams surrounded by interesting and intellectual people.

👓 The book is fun, particularly the dynamics around Eddie’s not overly traditional family were a lot of fun and I suspect this is where the Bridgerton comparison comes into play. The siblings all taunt and tease one another, yet in general enjoy each other’s company and are a lot of fun. I wonder if the author will revisit this family in future novels as I think there is a lot of potential here.

👫 Eddie as a character is a bit whiny for my tastes. I don’t know how else to describe it so I’m going with that. Supposedly the smart one, literary one, she makes a rash of bad decisions and doesn’t particularly leave you championing her happily ever after in the way you would with most protagonists. In contrast, Rose is a very likeable character.

🗺 This story was almost a story of two halves and a story of two locations. The first set in London, sees Eddie as quite immature, sulky and spoilt. Yet, much loved amongst her family. The second half focusses on Eddie’s experience in the country and is very much a coming-of-age journey and a sexual awakening.

💔 Any negatives? Not a negative but I feel like this author is one to watch. This book is great, I enjoyed it but if I am honest, I think they have something better up their sleeve. Whether that’s expanding more on the world she created in this book, or a completely different one entirely I can’t say. It feels like this author is emerging and I expect will get better and better.

💭 Overall View: Smart, funny, and different take on a historical regency-style romance novel. I look forward to reading more by this author. <i>
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Infamous – Extract

Review of CROSSROADS (Winds of love): Poetry and Prose by Jude Itakali

I’ve had this on my to-read pile for quite a long time and finally got round to reading. I can’t pretend I know much about poetry but having discovered Jude Itakali’s writing through his blog – I expected the contents of this book would be beautiful and it did not disappoint. Jude’s words are soothing and flowing, almost lyrical in their descriptions. There are poems in various styles and genres, some longer and some shorter. Jude’s skill as a poet to capture the essence of a moment in words is amazing.

Two of my favourites are:

Stray wondering wolf

True love lies beyond the pack

The moon will guide you

(page 20)

I also enjoyed this, which could almost form a motivational poster or something along those lines:

But to love is to be brave

To say yes

When all else says no

(Beyond Courage – page 96)

As the title suggests, the focus of this short collection is love and the journeys we all take to find it. The book has highs and lows but I found it left me feeling uplifted, joyous and hopeful. A fantastic debut collection and I look forward to seeing more works from this author.

Review of Ah Couldnae believe ma ears by Allan Morrison

Ah Couldnae Believe Ma Ears!: Classic Overheard Conversations by Allan Morrison

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Non-Fiction – Comedy – QuickRead

Ah Couldnae believe ma ears – cover

📖 Last week I reviewed Billy Connolly’s Windswept and Interesting (which is a brilliant book, highly recommended) – review can be found here: HTTPS://NEW2WRITING.WORDPRESS.COM/ It put me in mind of this little book which I found in a Charity Shop in Penrith last year. This book is a collection of stories and illustrations, all made from snippets of Scottish conversation heard in various places throughout Scotland. The book is broken down into places e.g. things overheard on a train. Etc.

✍️ As mentioned, I bought this book in a charity shop in Penrith, then we set off in the car to go home. I was reading the book as we drove along (I wasn’t driving) and laughed at a couple of the stories and illustrations. I passed the book over to my mother to show her what I was laughing at and she proceeded to read about a third of the book on her own, chortling away to herself as she did so.

👓 When I finally got the book back and started reading it again, it again made me laugh. I actually found myself photographing snippets to send to friends and family.

Ah Couldnae believe ma ears – Extract II
Ah Couldnae believe ma ears – Extract III
Ah Couldnae believe ma ears – Extract IV

💔 Any Negatives: It probably goes without saying but understanding the Scottish accent or regional dialects of some form will really help, without that some will struggle to read this.

💭 Overall View: An enjoyable light-hearted little book to chase away the January blues. Perfect for those with a Scot in their lives.

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📣 Thank you for reading my review. 😘

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Review of Windswept and Interesting – 5 Stars!

Windswept & Interesting: My Autobiography by Billy Connolly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Autobiography – Celebrity

Windswept and Interesting By Billy Connolly

📖 Billy Connolly reflects on his career, his life, his family and the many remarkable people he has had the opportunity to meet. Unlike other celeb books, this book doesn’t come across as a vanity project although it is indeed Billy’s story, but he intercepts it with jokes and anecdotes, much the way he does on stage. Each story is broken down into separate chapters with a little humour featured even in the darker aspects of his life. He includes a lovely collection of images too.

✍️ This book had it all for me, several pages were just heart-breaking, some were really uplifting and some inspired you to take a walk down memory lane. Some stories I already felt connected to as I remembered watching him do it on various shows and others were a fresh revelation, but both were equally captivating. So many of the stories stay with you long after you have stopped reading the pages.

👓 One of my favourite things about this book was the fact that it genuinely made me laugh out loud. I even found myself copying some of the excerpts and sending them to friends who I knew would find it hilarious too. I read this book in just two days (and could have possibly completed it in one), it was so enjoyable and engrossing I didn’t want to put it down. It was quite strange that you could almost hear Billy’s voice as you read it, which added to the humour.

🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract from a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

… these days bean-bag chairs are the least of my worries – ANY chair is a big challenge. I get trapped and can’t get up. My physiotherapist taught me to rock back and forth to build momentum, but that’s dangerous, because I fart more than when I was younger. I don’t know why. I just do. And the most acute farting risk is when I’m getting up out of a chair. Bbbbbbbbbrrrrrrggggghhhhhh!!! The rocking just accentuates it. I got myself a leather chair because I thought it would squeak by itself and cover the farting … but nothing covers these thunderclaps. BBBBBRRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!

💭 Overall View: Smart, witty, sarcastic, honest, yet still with a positive message and full of love.

📣 I hope you enjoyed my review. Thank you for reading. 😘


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Review of The Order of the White Boar

Genre: Youth Adult Fiction – Historical Fiction

The Order of the White Boar by Alex Marchant

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Order of the White Boar – Cover

📖 I purchased this book having met this author at Middleham Castle. The author came across as very passionate about history and indeed, Richard III, I was intrigued to find out more so purchased this book, the first in the series. Needless to say, I was very impressed.

✍️ This book primarily follows the story of young Matthew Wansford (Matt), who starts as a young page in training at Middleham Castle, home of King Edward IV’s brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester. He quickly encounters both a foe and friendships at the Castle and embarks on a journey that will change him from a young boy into a man. When asked to accompany the Duke on a journey south to London, Matt’s life changes beyond his wildest expectations, but in a world where loyalties can be costly, has Matt taken the right path in support of the Duke? Only time will tell.

👫 The book covers many issues, including estrangement from family, bullying, friendship, romance and more. The subjects are all handled delicately, making this book suitable for young teens but also not shied away from, which I loved. Life back then was hard, for young and adults alike, and the author captures this well.

👓 One of the great things about this book is the pace. A lot happens quickly in young Matt’s life. Historical fiction can be slow, lofty and full of excessive detail, but this book isn’t, whilst there is enough detail to give you a feel for the period, it isn’t bogged down with descriptions.

🗺 The setting of this book is primarily Middleham Castle, a location I love. The author does a great job of really capturing the hustle and bustle of castle life, the way it would have been. The hunts are also well-described and full of detail.

💔 Any Negatives: This story definitely feels like it is leading up to more. So although enjoyable as a story on its own, I think the others in the series will likely better it. No shock there, especially knowing in real-life the troubles awaiting the future of the Kingdom, but I just thought it was worth a mention that really towards the end of the book, the adventure is really just beginning.

💭 Overall View: A really brilliant start to what I’m sure will be a fantastic series. This book shows Richard and his family in a new more gentle light than the way his story is often told. I loved the youthful aspect of it and the sense of adventure, and the loyalty and friendship featured in the book.

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Review of Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Daisy Jones & The Six

Genre: Fiction – Music – Romance – Life

📖 I originally saw this book as part of Reeses Book Club picks and added it to my to-read pile but never got around to it until recently. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.

✍️ The first thing you will notice about this book is the style of writing. The full book is written as a series of interviews with the crew of Daisy Jones and The Six (plus a few significant others). No set-up, scenery, description, or any of that, just pure dialogue. Whilst it can take a little to get used to, it works very well.

👫 The story really is around the band named The Six and their journey. Their lead singer, Billie, gets pulled into the struggle of managing drink, drugs, the rock n roll lifecycle plus bringing up a young family. The band’s fame is soaring and when Daisy Jones joins it flies higher than all predictions expected, but as is often the case, fly too close to the sun and you might get burnt. The method of using the interview style and dialogue really taps into this, whilst Billie thinks one thing is going on, his band are often thinking something else entirely.

👓 Add Daisy Jones to the mix and the pot of instability is ready to boil over. Daisy’s parents are famous, and she has grown up in a celebrity-based environment. She has natural talent but also an air of spoiltness to her, Daisy is used to getting what Daisy wants. Yet, underneath the bravo is a girl that wants to be understood and loved for who she is. Daisy is a brilliant character; sometimes you like her, others you don’t.

🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract from a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

Daisy: I was seeing a couple of guys back then, including Wyatt Stone of the Breeze. And I didn’t feel the same way about him that he felt about me.
This one night we were smoking a joint up on the roof of this apartment over on Santa Monica and Wyatt said, “I love you so much and I don’t understand why you don’t love me.”
I said, “I love you as much as I’m willing to love anybody.” Which was true. I wasn’t really willing to be vulnerable with anybody at that point. I had felt too much vulnerability too young. I didn’t want to do it anymore.
So that night after Wyatt goes to bed, I can’t sleep. And I see this piece of paper with this song he’s writing and it’s clearly about me. It says something about a redhead and mentioned the hoop earrings that I was wearing at the time.
And then he had this chorus about me having a big heart but no love in it. I kept looking at the words, thinking, This isn’t right. He didn’t understand me at all. So I thought about it for a little while and got out a pen and paper. I wrote some things down.
When he woke up, I said, “Your chorus should be more like, ‘Big Eyes, big soul/big heart, no control/but all she got to give is tiny love.”
Wyatt grabbed a pen and paper and he said, “Say that again?”
I said, “It was just an example. Write your own goddam song.”

Simone: “Tiny love” was the Breeze’s biggest hit. And Wyatt pretended he wrote the whole thing.

💔 Any Negatives: This book doesn’t really end the way you expect it to and I really liked the ending, not everyone gets the happily-ever-after and sometimes people do just want different things – but I imagine some people will not enjoy this ending so much (it’s difficult to say more without giving too much away).

💭 Overall View: A very different book, with an unusual writing style that I think once you get used to it, works extremely well. I’ll certainly read more works by this author.

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Review of The Stranger in the Lifeboat

The Stranger in the Lifeboat by Mitch Albom

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Stranger in a lifeboat – cover

📖 I loved this book. I had previously read The Five People you meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom and really enjoyed it, so when I saw this new book, I thought I would give it a go. I wasn’t disappointed. Despite the fact, I started reading this late at night, I found myself still sitting up at one in the morning reading this, and completely finished the book within two days.

✍️ These books are unlike any other books I have read. I don’t normally go in for anything religious, which these books feature, but this has such an intriguing puzzling storyline to it that you start thinking “are they really innocent?” or “what would I do in that situation?”. Just when you think you have something sussed out, Albom throws in a plot twist or two to keep you guessing too.

🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract from a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

“The distance between death and life is not as great as you imagine.”
“Really,?” Yannis turned his way. “Then why don’t people come back to Earth after they die?”
The stranger smiled. “Why would they want to?”

👓 This story is told across three main perspectives, Benji, who is on a lifeboat with a group of strangers, Le Fleur a detective called to investigate an abandoned lifeboat and various media reports.

👫 Benji records his journey through a journal, transcribing the events of the stranded survivors on the lifeboat, and questioning what really happened to cause the ship to sink. When they come across a stranger adrift at sea who claims he can save them all, the group soon become divided, questioning everything they know, they trust, and even their beliefs.

🗺 Le Fleur is a troubled detective. After suffering the loss of his young daughter, he finds his marriage is struggling, he drinks a lot and is struggling with life. When he is called to investigate the strange lifeboat, he becomes consumed by the pages of the journal and the puzzle of what happened to the survivors of the shipwreck.

💭 Overall View: A fantastically strange story and an enjoyable mystery. I would definitely recommend and I look forward to reading other works from this author.

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Review of The Last Reunion by Kayte Nunn

The Last Reunion by Kayte Nunn

The Last Reunion – Cover

Genre: Historical Fiction – WWII – Burma – Strong Females
📖 I loved this book. I love historical fiction anyway but it’s not often that I read fiction set in the 20th century. The blurb on this book had me immediately intrigued. The story is set over two timelines. In the modern timeline, Olivia, an apprentice art dealer is sent to the country to try to convince an elderly widow (Beatrix) to sell her most prized possession, a Japanese netsuke. However, gaining the provenance needed to sell the netsuke could prove tricky as Beatrix has a rather interesting past, one which will need to be brought to light if the sale is to go ahead.

✍️ The second timeline is set in Burma in 1945 and tells the story of Beatrix (then known as Bea) and her friends as they sign up for the Wasbies, the Women’s Auxiliary Service. The girls soon find themselves shipped all over and facing long days serving men on the frontline in very difficult circumstances. They learn how to take care of themselves, each other and the hundreds of men to whom they provide food, services and a friendly smile each day.

🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract from a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

‘You can sleep when you’re dead,’ said Plum, throwing a towel at Bea’s head.
Bea groaned and shaded her face with her arm. ‘I didn’t get a wink last night,’ she complained as Plum and Bubbles got ready to go out. ‘Not the one before that.’
‘You heard what Mrs St John said about morale,’ said Bubbles as she shimmied her hips into a tight-fitting silk dress. ‘It’s expected that we’ll go to dances; help cheer up the troops. I hope Charles won’t mind too much; of course, I wish it were his arms around me.’
So, dancing skills were in fact required. Bea sighed. ‘I’m sure that’s half the reason you signed up,’ she said dismissively.
‘Course it was,’ laughed Plum, oblivious to Bea’s sarcasm.

👫 I think most who read this book will fall in love with Bea. Her character arc is very interesting. In the historic timeline, she is introduced as polite, and straight-talking but rather shy (noting others amongst her friendship group are the life of the party). Yet by the modern timeline, she is an old woman, bolshy, brave and strong-willed. The war has changed her, she knows she is strong, adaptable and not afraid to get her hands dirty.

🗺 As mentioned, this book has two storylines, the second taking place in Burma. Burma is often called the Forgotten war because its operations were often overlooked by the contemporary press and remained more obscure than those of the corresponding formations in Europe for long after the war. Although I have read a few books about the war and watched a few war documentaries, I knew little about this time period and location, this book did such a marvellous job of bringing it alive. The author included so much detail, even the changes in the weather and the hardship that could bring.

💭 Overall View: A great historical fiction adventure from the frontline.

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Review of Read The Leaves – 5 Stars

Another perfect little Halloween read with a difference…

Read the Leaves by Kate Valent
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Fiction – Magical – Fantasy – Historical

Read the Leaves – Cover

📖 This is the second book in the Serendipi-tea series by author Kate Valent and it’s a great addition. This novel primarily follows Mary, a young writer who writes under a pseudonym so that no one knows who she is (and that she is female). When her father’s publishing company, which publishes her works, runs into financial troubles, Mary with the help of her sister Margaret, and her friend Charlotte try to do all they can to save it.

✍️ Also woven throughout this novel is a blossoming romance. Mary meets the dashing Lord Holiday, an odd fellow, who only appears to spend time out in the evening. Even more strange, is how closely Lord Holiday resembles Lord Hallow, the vampire from the serial that Mary writes. Can Mary trust this handsome stranger, or is he more alike Lord Hallow than she would like to believe? In this magical world, it feels like anything is possible.

🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

She was certain she had never seen him before. But to be at this party he must be someone, either a magician, lord, or businessman. She couldn’t fathom who or what he was or get the thoughts of the villainous vampire out of her head.

👓 This book is a fantasy book with much of the side story being around runes and their use (originally by the wealthy but with more and more making their way to the working class). The book is set in a somewhat historical Victorian setting, with many traditions, and mannerisms (and class systems) referenced from that time period.

👫 Great range of characters, both Mary and her sister Margaret are fun and intriguing characters. Mary trying to make her way in what has up until recently been a male-dominated world is handled delicately and a great nod to the time period that is being captured.

🗺 One of the things I really liked about this story is that although it is a continuation of a series, it was not a continuation of Charlotte’s story (although she does feature) but is a new story focusing on a completely different character.

💔 Any Negatives: I wish Mary and Margaret had perhaps been given slightly different names. As the names are quite similar, I sometimes got a little lost and misread them (thinking it was one or the other). If it had been something different from each other but still historical sounding, Mary and Emily, or something else it would have made it a little easier to read on the eyes. But that is quite picky and probably more of a personal preference.

💭 Overall View: An enjoyable romp through a magical Victorian world (with writers, books, tea and cakes!). An excellent addition to the series.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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Review of Derecho Rising

Derecho Rising by David Phillips
My rating: 3.5 Stars
Genre: Horror – Short Stories

Derecho Rising – Cover

📖 I first came across this author on his WordPress blog. Featured on there are many examples of short stories, often with dark twists. His writing is fast-paced and dives straight into the heart of the story, with no messing around (which I enjoy).

✍️ This book is mostly made up of a collection of short stories, with 2 slightly longer tales within. It’s not a book for the faint-hearted and regularly involves death, violence or horror. There are quite a few paranormal and futuristic type short stories thrown into the mix, which makes a change of pace to the usual horror stories but I preferred the more classic, gothic, creepy style horror story.

💔 Any Negatives: This book could probably do with another proofread as there were quite a few typo’s in this book that can be distracting, such as “Phil had lighted the fire”, “Grandad had been much quitter and no bother.” Improve those and the book will be so much more enjoyable to read.

As there are so many short stories in this book, I’m sure there is something for everyone. There were a few that I wasn’t as keen on but I think that is always the way with such a large collection.

💭 Overall View: Definitely a collection with a difference and it’s the perfect time of year to read something with a creep factor. At the time of writing, this was free on Kindle Unlimited, so if you have a kindle unlimited membership it would definitely be worth giving this collection a try.

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